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Macao

USA 1952. Dirs: Josef von Sternberg, Nicholas Ray. 81 min. DCP

Mixed-up identities, shifting alliances, jealous dames, and murderous gangsters propel the plot of this steamy, ultra-stylish noir thriller, produced by Howard Hughes at RKO, with direction credited to master of exotica Josef von Sternberg. When three American strangers — a chanteuse (Jane Russell), an ex-serviceman (Robert Mitchum), and a salesman (William Bendix) — disembark at the Far East port of Macao, it arouses the suspicions of a local crime boss (Brad Dexter), who’s been tipped off that an undercover cop is coming from the States to nab him. Gloria Grahame plays the gangster’s girlfriend. Hughes fired von Sternberg late in production and brought in the uncredited Nicholas Ray (In a Lonely Place) to mop up and do re-shoots. “An underrated noir classic ... Russell, with the possible exception of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was never better” (Bruce Eder, AllMovie.com).


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REVIEWS

"A delightful bit of RKO exotica ... What is so enjoyable, apart from Harry Wild's shimmering camerawork, is the tongue-in-cheek tone of the script and performances, best evidenced in the sparkling banter and innuendo between Mitchum and Russell."

Time Out | full review